SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Chapter Fifty-Seven: Survive the Night,” the third season finale of “Riverdale.”
The Gargoyle King was finally unmasked on “Riverdale’s” third season finale, but like everything within that show, things were not as simple as they first appeared to be.
While it was Chic (Hart Denton) who was running around town doing most of the dirty work, such as getting the Griffins & Gargoyles game into the hands of the town’s youth in the first place, it was Penelope Blossom (Nathalie Boltt) who was really pulling the strings.
“Penelope’s a master manipulator,” says showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. “She suffered two core wounds in her life: One was she was basically bought by the Blossom family to marry Clifford, and then she lost her son Jason. When we were talking about who would want to take such an epic revenge on our families, on our town, it really felt like Penelope.”
The decision to put Penelope and Chic behind the Gargoyle King threat, and to bring back Hal Cooper (Lochlyn Munro) as the Black Hood, came early in the writers’ room breaking story for the third season, Aguirre-Sacasa says, because they wanted to use the season to “conclude the stories we had begun in the pilot.”
Bringing the three together as one ultimate threat to the core four characters of Archie (KJ Apa), Betty (Lili Reinhart), Veronica (Camila Mendes) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) was a way to create “one big, uber-mystery that snaked its way through the years and through the seasons.” Paying off how Jason’s death connected to these later threats made room to push the characters forward into a completely new mystery that also takes place slightly in the future, during spring break of their senior year.
The end of the third season finale saw Archie, Betty, and Veronica alone in the woods at night, streaked with blood and burning their clothes — and Jughead’s beanie.
“We often have bad things happening to our peripheral characters, but we wanted to see what someone struck down amongst our core group of characters [looked like],” Aguirre-Sacasa says.
Going forward, Aguirre-Sacasa reveals that the “fun and challenge” of the show will be answering the question of what happened to Jughead.
“The Riverdale universe is a dark universe; it’s a universe where bad things happen, and no one is truly safe there,” he reminds.
But that was far from the only Season 4 seed planted in the episode. It was also revealed that Betty’s mother, Alice (Mädchen Amick), was working with law enforcement to bring down organ-harvesting cult The Farm and that her older brother Charles was not only alive but one of those law enforcement members with whom Alice was working.
While Aguirre-Sacasa shares that he “pretty much told the story of The Farm” in Season 3, the last piece of that is how to get Alice out after the members disappeared. “That is something that we’ll resolve at the top of Season 4,” he confirms.